So as this is my first time writing an article and a new comer to the Into The 99 let me first say “Hiya. I’m Lotusbloom. 😊 I have been playing since Scourge and I’m a huge commander player, but also play most other formats (looking at you tiny leaders). I'm a Level 1 Judge and love playing the jank or bizarre. This leads me nicely on to the 36 deck quest. What is this you may ask? Well let me sit you down and tell you.
So, there was Mystery Commander Night but 3 of us had the same commander, and it was one of those occasions when we only brought 1 deck each. BIG mistake! although our evening was fun it was somewhat …. samey. So the conversation went on about “how to avoid this” but still leave the commander a surprise. So we had no idea what we would be facing.
How do you determine a different commander with out knowing what each of you have. Well, we thought of choosing a colour identity, Then we know what we have but not what the leader is. This got me thinking what if I didn’t own a combo of colours, Why don’t I own one of each colour combo? Then that why not turned to I should, and I should turned to “well I guess I’m committed now”.
This was not the idea of the conversation, It was just to tell us the colour combo and to avoid us all choosing the same one but I jumped down the rabbit hole into this quest.
Choosing your commanders
So we have 36 commander to pick, I have 13 either built or chosen as of this article, but this isn’t a rush or a race. I want to love these decks and be proud of them. But choosing the commander is not as easy as “that’s a good one” or “that’s the right colour for the job” I’ve gotta love the concept of the deck how it’s played and interacts.
I'm a player who likes odd or undervalued cards, so I want my decks to be fun, hold their own, but not be a deck you will see often. A tall order no less.
Commander Legends recruited some more to my cause, starting with Yurlok of Scorch Thrash, this was perfect. When I started Magic we had the addition rule of “mana burn,” so this nod to the old rules of Magic was exactly what this quest needed! Hans Eriksson was another nod to days of old, I fondly remember playing Unhinged shouting “Ach! Hans, Run!” Therefore having this as a black bordered card was again perfect. His mechanic requires an unique build around to make this deck function, I can’t wait to build this one!
I already owned Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker, Sephara, Sky’s Blade, and Zur, The Enchanter, and others but I only owned very few decks at that time. I was the kind of player who built a deck then took it apart to build a new one due to lack of multiples of cards in my collection.
So the quest was turning out more difficult than I first thought, as I need to keep these decks built and on hand to play at any time. Also, what commanders do I want to have as permanent fixtures in the quest, and shouldn’t they play differently from each other if possible? I mean, do I really want multiple decks that are +1/+1 counters and token creation, meaning multiple doubling seasons or something else expensive?
This challenge is going to take some time and planning, and Commander Legends has offered me some fine options but who to play? What to choose?
Building the Decks
The challenge for building the decks is power level, win con, play style but mostly budget. When you set out to build 36 decks in paper plus boxes and sleeves this is a huge factor. When you have a few decks already it’s nice to use them as your base starting point, plus I know I have mill, angel tribal, aggro and combo. My oldest deck was a helmed by Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca and had clone effects, +1/+1 counter strategies using doubling season and parallel lives all topped with copy enchantments. But do I want to do this type of strategy again? Will it break the quest if I do?
Slurrk, All-Ingesting look like such a fun commander, and Ooze tribal no less, but I don’t want to waste that partner mechanic. So Reyhan, Last of the Abzan fits with it perfectly thanks to the interactions with the +1/+1 counters that compliments Slurrk. But wait this is just a different colour version of my Simic Merfolk Deck is it not?
Now we have the challenge, do we build decks that are similar? After all, there are only so many deck archetypes. Maybe we add restrictions to the build to make this deck feel different. In Kumena, it's all about duplicating and drawing cards and to aggro as a second option. What if we build Slurrk as a kill deck, more thematic with slimes eating the board. Yes the counters and tokens will be the same but the play style will be different as you’re there to remove their creatures with spells.
So we can do similar decks as long as they are not identical and have different methods of interacting with the board. It’s all coming together!
I have not yet completed this quest because I feel this will be going on for some time, however this is an adventure which I’m happy to stick to, as I hope to build some weird and wonderful decks of differing strategies and power levels.
I hope to keep you all informed of the progress as new breakthroughs occur and additions to the decks are made. I also I would love to hear if you have any quests you have set yourselves.
Just remember, Magic is a hobby to enjoy whether challenging yourself or chilling with a precon. Hope to catch you all next time and please stay safe, play fair, and be kind to yourselves.
You're all amazing
Toni Lotusbloom McCorkindale